coachella valley arts and music festival 2015

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

According to my little stats here on the blog, it’s been 22 days since I made any sort of update. With the epic coverage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup throughout June and trying to focus on getting my life in order plus some vacation time, I needed a little break. Right before the World Cup began, I failed to note a much anticipated release in the music world.

Since seeing Florence and The Machine at Coachella back in April (one of my favorite performances of the festival might I add), I anticipated the release of her latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. It came out on May 29th, about a week and a half before the USAvAUS opener. However, I was waiting to purchase it with my gift certificate from Amoeba Music (the world’s largest independent record store with three locations in California- Berkeley (the original location), San Francisco, and Hollywood) during their monthly 15% off sale. The sale didn’t happen until mid-June so I ordered it on vinyl then. I received it by the end of June, about a month after its initial release. I didn’t listen to the album aside from an early song release or two in prep for Coachella until I had the record in my possession. I did however unintentionally hear a few songs from the album because FoxSports, who covered the Women’s World Cup, used some songs off the latest album as background music during their video montages of the tournament. Needless to say, that just got me more hyped to listen to the album.

The album was worth the wait. After purchasing the first two Florence and The Machine albums on vinyl, I had to follow suit with the third. Like the first two albums, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful delivered with the same powerful female vocals, catchy choruses, and indie pop/rock style. I  honestly love this band’s consistency as far as style goes. Although the themes in Florence and The Machine’s albums may vary, the sound never disappoints or strays from what made people fall in love with them in the first place. It may be my favorite album of theirs to date. I highly recommend it. The album topped the charts in eight different countries during its first week on the market, including the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 in the United States. It was the first time a Florence and The Machine album received that honor. So there’s a little proof of how good this record is besides me just saying it’s awesome. So check it out asap and check out these songs in particular:

1. Delilah

2. Queen of Peace

3. Ship to Wreck

4. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

5. What Kind of Man

6. Caught

7. St. Jude

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Coachella 2015 Recap

It’s with great pride and pleasure that I can now say I’ve lost my Coachella virginity. As you know, if you’ve been keeping up with my blog, I was beyond stoked to go to the epic three day festival in Indio, CA. Now that I’ve been there though, it’s difficult to put into words just how special it is. The atmosphere is filled with the best vibes imaginable. It’s incredibly relaxed (possibly due to all the pot smoking). People are in good moods (mostly…I ran into a girl who seemed a little angry the last day before the Florence and the Machine set when I put my hand on the bar she was going to lean on). The bands and artists bring their best performances because they’re just as excited to be there as everyone else. The artwork is innovative. The food, although overpriced, is delicious and there are plenty of options to choose from. The setting makes it though. It’s so beautiful. Palm trees line the polo fields with vast mountains in the background as the signature ferris wheel from the California State Fair rotates giving riders the ultimate view of the festival. It’s incredible and it’s difficult to appreciate when you’re there since you want to catch as much music as possible. That’s really the most important thing about Coachella. It’s about the music. Without it, Coachella wouldn’t exist. Everything else is extra. Fortunately I only experienced a few conflicts but I made it work so that I was able to catch at least part of, if not all of the sets I wanted to see.

On Friday, I planned to see Angus & Julia Stone, Alabama Shakes, Tame Impala, and AC/DC. My cousin (she attended with me) and I got to the festival early the first day to do a bit of exploring before the Angus & Julia Stone set in the late afternoon. We rode the ferris wheel, got some merch, checked out the stages, saw the artwork, and relaxed in the field before the set. Angus & Julia Stone play mellow indie music so the set was very laid back. A lot of people were sitting and relaxing while they listened. We were too.

Alabama Shakes hit the Outdoor Stage just as the sun was setting. Brittany Howard brought the house down with her powerful vocals. I was a little disappointed the band didn’t play my favorite song (“Hold On”) but they did debut some new material from their soon to be released album Sound & Color (April 20th on iTunes, in stores April 21st). Either way they killed it.

Tame Impala hit the main stage right before Friday night headliner, AC/DC. The crowd really started buzzing when they launched into their hits “Elephant” and “Feels Like It Only Goes Backwards”. They also debuted some new tunes at the festival and the crowd was totally loving it.

AC/DC closed out Friday with a mixture of new tunes and old favorites. We were spent by the time AC/DC started and only ended up staying for half the set. They put on a great show though. I heard some of my favorites like Back in Black, Thunderstruck, and You Shook Me All Night Long. I was even singing along to the faint sounds of T.N.T. as we made our way to the shuttles. I was glad I had the opportunity to see them live.

On Saturday with the reminders of how tired we were, how late we got to bed, how much cell phone charge we had left by the end of the night (the charging stations didn’t work…such false advertising), and by the desire to sample local eats, we decided to head to the festival about 2 hours later than we did on Friday. We were both more pumped for Saturday’s planned lineup which featured Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Milky Chance, Jungle, Belle and Sebastian, alt-J, and Jack White because there was less waiting time in between sets (we had lot on Friday and we were getting antsy). After a longer than planned ride/entrance to the festival due to security reasons, we made it in with a little over a half hour to spare before Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness took over the Outdoor Stage. We grabbed some drinks and headed over there. Upon arrival, the crowd was small. It was so small that I could have managed being in what would be considered the second row. It was hot though so I was fine with hanging back a bit. By the set time more people had come in behind me, but unlike some sets I went to on Sunday there was enough room to breathe.

His set was one of my favorites of the entire weekend. He engaged the crowd and you could tell just how excited he was to play Coachella (he stated it as well but he didn’t even need to). He included a Jack’s Mannequin song (“Dark Blue”) and a Something Corporate song (“I Woke Up in a Car”) in the set which were both favorites among the small crowd who sang along with vigor. Then he followed up with their single “Cecilia and the Satellite”. At some point during the set large balloons were brought out and members of  the Andrew McMahon team held them in the crowd. Near the end of the set (it might have been during “Cecilia and the Satellite), the balloons popped and confetti was released from them. It was such a fun moment and added to the already enjoyable performance. I think the most memorable part came during the last song when gym class parachutes were given to and held by the crowd and Andrew came off the stage and sang with everyone standing under them. The set was a great way to kick off my Day 2 and left me pumped for the rest of the evening.

Next on the list was Milky Chance. We could only stay for some of the set because Jungle overlapped slightly. I wanted to make it to the Jungle set to get a good spot. I only knew two songs they played including the one everyone knows, “Stolen Dance”. We were able to hear both but I thought the performance of “Stolen Dance” wasn’t as great as I had hoped. They only sang the verses of the song. When the chorus came around Clemens Rehbein (vocals) left it up to the crowd. However the crowd wasn’t large enough to get the desired effect of everyone singing along. From where we were standing all you could hear was the music. It was disappointing so we left for Jungle.

Jungle’s set was jam packed with songs off their debut album. The crowd danced and sang along to their funk inspired sound. A favorite amongst everyone in attendance was “Burnin’ Easy”. It got the flower headband wearing hippies moving. Their final song “Time” had the same effect.

Shortly after Jungle finished, Belle and Sebastian began their Coachella set. We only stayed for a few songs because I knew we needed to be at Main Stage early for alt-J. Belle and Sebastian were a perfect example of an indie band playing the festival. Their songs are both mellow and upbeat. It’s not the type of music you’d necessarily bounce around and shake your head furiously to. It’s the stuff you would sway your body around to, which was what the audience did to the few songs we heard. I read the band played a lot of good hits near the end of the set (the part we missed) and the crowd was really into it, but I think the spot for alt-J was worth it.

We ended up with a spot on the barrier next to the V.I.P. area, which allowed for a celebrity sighting during the set (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul), but it was also close enough to be in the thickness of fans. Alt-J opened with “Hunger of the Pine” (Miley didn’t show much to my displeasure) and had the crowd bumping the whole time to a mixture of songs off both An Awesome Wave and This Is All Yours. Of course the most pleasurable reactions came from current hit “Left Hand Free” and closing/well-known song “Breezeblocks”. It was another favorite set of the day for me.

Jack White took the stage after alt-J. His performance and talent on the guitar was unreal. It began to my surprise with a White Stripes song, “Icky Thump”. His whole set included a bunch of White Stripes songs including the last song “Seven Nation Army” which had the crowd chanting “O-O-O-O-O-O” at one point when they cut the music during the song. The set wasn’t all White Stripes of course and had songs like “Lazaretto”, “Love Interruption”, “High Ball Stepper”, “Would You Fight For My Love?”, “The Black Bat Licorice”, and “Sixteen Saltines”. Jack White’s beliefs and passion for music were evident through what he spoke about in between songs. He was my favorite headliner. We were able to see the entirety of the set since his time slot was pushed down in favor of the Weeknd closing out Saturday night. I’m glad it was.

Sunday was the busiest day of the festival for us. It was the only day with conflicting set times. The biggest one was deciding between RAC and St. Lucia (St. Lucia started 15 minutes after RAC). Since I had listened to RAC more in prep for Coachella and because my cousin also likes one of their songs, we went with RAC (although still managed to make it to the Main Stage for the last 2 St. Lucia songs). They were also first on the list for Sunday. Like the day before, we decided to head to the festival around the same time since we needed to check into our flight around 1 and wanted to try a pizza place for lunch about 2 blocks from our hotel (it was better to only eat once or so at the festival since it was overpriced). Because of that, I missed the Night Terrors of 1927 and Saint Motel sets. It would have been nice to check those guys out but it wasn’t a necessity since I don’t know that much of their stuff anyway (two good bands nonetheless).

RAC’s set was a blast. They played all my favorites off their album Strangers including “Tear You Down”, “All I Got”, “Hollywood” which special guest Penguin Prison came out to perform, and “Cheap Sunglasses”. It did surprise me that RAC only had one special guest since Matthew Koma performed on Saturday and could have easily made an appearance. Unfortunately St. Lucia couldn’t join them for the song they collaborated on because they were playing at the same time. Still, it was a great set and I was dancing and singing along the whole time.

After RAC we rushed over to hear the end of St. Lucia’s set. We heard “September” and “Elevate”, both were good so I’m sure the rest was great too. I think seeing either band (RAC or St. Lucia) would have been comparable as far as enjoyment level goes for me, but I got a little of both with the choice I made.

My cousin decided she wanted to hear Vance Joy’s set so on the way over I caught one song by Conor Oberst and his punk band Desaparecidos. I didn’t even recognize Oberst as he looks way different now than he did as the dark haired, emo Bright Eyes front man. The set also attracted a smaller crowd and would have been fun to attend if it didn’t overlap with others.

While waiting for Vance Joy to come out, the Mojave stage got super crowded. After he played one song my cousin decided she’d rather get out of the tight bunch of people and listen from a more comfortable spot. I agreed. Vance Joy could have easily been an Outdoor or Main Stage performer as his set attracted an overflow of people from the covered Mojave. I tried to listen to Vance Joy in preparation for the event but I wasn’t feeling his music. I like “Riptide” but beyond that it wasn’t my vibe. I guess it wasn’t my cousin’s either so we listened as we “Coachilled” (A Coachella term meaning to sit and relax) from a spot just outside the crowd and tented stage. We sang along with “Riptide” as Vance Joy closed out his set then made our way back to the stage as the crowd filtered out. Brand New was on next.

I was hyped for Brand New. I decided I wanted to be closer than the previous times we saw bands on the Mojave stage. I was so ready to go hard to one of my favorite high school bands. To my dismay though, Brand New’s set was mostly songs off the two most recent albums Daisy and The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (my two least favorite Brand New albums). I planned on going so hard to all the Brand New songs but it didn’t work out that way. However, when the beginning of “Sic Transit Gloria” started and the whole crowd let out a scream, I did as well. Everyone belted out the Deja Entendu classic. That was followed by “Okay I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t” another favorite amongst the crowd (I went so hard). It seemed like those two songs along with “Jesus Christ” and “Sowing Season (Yeah)” got the biggest crowd reaction (they closed out the show with those two along with “Degausser” in between). The set featured no songs from “Your Favorite Weapon”. I think because of my high hopes for that I was disappointed and found the set less enjoyable than expected. Don’t get me wrong the set was great and everyone there was dancing hard while screaming out the lyrics to their favorite songs, but from my perspective, it was disappointing.

St. Vincent was next on my list for the day followed by Florence and the Machine (one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend). We saw St. Vincent perform a few songs. “Digital Witness” was one of them, but once I noticed Kaskade finished his extremely popular set on the main stage (which was right by the stage St. Vincent performed at) we headed there to get a good spot for Florence.

My cousin’s back was sore so I told her to sit in the back next to a speaker pole (A9 to be exact) while I made my way closer to the stage. It was a difficult task. I planned to try to go to the opposite side of the stage from where we were for alt-J, but with the amount of people it didn’t work out like that. I was near the same spot I was at for alt-J (near the V.I.P. area). It was so cramped. A girl was annoyed that I tried to “steal her spot”. To be fair I left enough room for her to stand near the bar where we were, but she just didn’t want to share. It was dark by then. The V.I.P. area filled up too so it was difficult to see if anyone famous was hanging out, which I’m sure there was. When Florence and the Machine took the stage, I couldn’t see anything. All I saw was the big screen which showed what I could’ve easily watched at home on YouTube. I made the decision to leave the cramped spot during the second song “What Kind of Man” (she opened with “What the Water Gave Me”). Cell reception was at its worst of the weekend so I had a hard time figuring out where my cousin was (she was not at pole A9). I visually missed a large chunk of the set because I was looking for her. I did stop to watch at times though. It was just a difficult moment. We finally reunited (she was at pole A7) and I was able to watch the end of the set which included new song “Ship to Wreck”, “Shake It Out”, and “Dog Days Are Over”. Singing and dancing along to “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days..” made up for lost time. During “Dog Days..” she had the crowd embrace each other, take off an article of clothing and wave it around, and jump up and down, which she took part in as well (She took off her shirt. It was wild!). If it weren’t for all my issues during the set (being cramped and losing my cousin) I would have fully enjoyed it. Everything I saw of it was amazing. Florence and the Machine put on a hell of a live performance. I’d love to see them again in a more intimate capacity (you know just a Florence show rather than at a festival).

The last set of the night was Drake (my cousin’s choice and I figured “Hey I’ll see him just to say I saw him” because Drake is not my type of music). His set started a half hour late. I knew zero songs. My cousin knew one which he only sang/rapped part of. We left around 11 which was 15 minutes or so after it started. We missed the whole Madonna thing. It wasn’t a big deal to us though. The best part of the Drake set for me was his pre-show playlist. It included Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” which got the whole crowd going. Back in the day when I liked rap and Eminem, I used to listen to the song before every 8th grade basketball game so it was fun to sing/rap to again.

Leaving the venue during the Drake set concluded my first Coachella experience. Like I said it was incredible. I feel so blessed to have gone and experienced it. I would recommend it to anyone to attend. Sure there are other huge similar style festivals like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and now even Firefly, but there’s something special about Coachella. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or maybe it’s the hype with the parties and fashion and tons of celebrities that go every year. No matter the reason, it was a dream experience. For me, it was the music. It’s always the music. To quote something Jack White said during his set, “I hope you realize for a few seconds every day that music is scared. That music is sacred! That music is sacred! That music is sacred!” I agree Jack. So whether it be Coachella or any concert or festival or radio station or CD or record or ipod/iphone playlist, let’s remember that. Music is sacred.

 

 

Coachella Band Preview: Night Terrors of 1927

So the epic two weekend long Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival begins on Friday. Finally! I’ve been waiting for about 8 months officially but it was about 10 months in the making. This is the last band preview for the 2015 festival, and in a way I struggled to figure out which band to do. There were a ton of options, but not many I could make connections with as I have with all the bands I’ve previewed so far. So I did some listening, reading, and reviewing and I found a new band for myself.

Night Terrors of 1927 was formed in 2012 by former front man of The Honorary Title, Jarrod Gorbel and former Rilo Kiley lead guitarist, Blake Sennett (Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley is also playing Coachella this year as a solo act). Some of you 90’s kids may even know Blake from his role as “Joey the Rat” on the TV show Boy Meets World or as Ronnie Pinsky from Salute Your Shorts. In 2013 they released a debut EP called Guilty Pleas. Their debut album, Everything’s Coming Up Roses, just came out in January. Now they’re on tour and making a stop in Indio along the way.

Their music may be considered indie pop but their album also sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a modern John Hughes film. It’s got the 80’s vibe, yet still a modern electronic indie feel. In fact, I’m pretty sure they could do a solid cover of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

As for me and my connection to the band, I literally just found out about them on Thursday. I wish I had listened to them earlier because I really do like what I’m hearing. Unfortunately though, they play both weekends at Coachella on Sunday along with just about every other band I want to see. I’m not sure if they’ll conflict with anyone I already had planned to see. If not though, I think they’re worth checking out. Who knows, maybe they’ll end up blowing up like many other bands who have played Coachella have done before them. Well, it’s been real previewing these Coachella bands. For anyone headed to the festival over the next two weeks I hope you have an incredible time. As for me, I’ll recap everything next week some time. Until then, peace, love, and good vibes.

Song recommendations:

1. When You Were Mine (feat. Tegan & Sara)

2. Dust and Bones

3. Young and Vicious

4. Always Take You Back

5. Never One To Complain

Coachella Band Preview: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness

10 days til Coachella! Yes I said it. It’s almost here. I fly out in a little over a week and the anticipation is killing me. I’m beyond stoked. I’ll probably have one more festival blog post between now and then, but this is it. Home stretch. If you haven’t been listening to any of the bands playing the festival, now is the time to cram. This band I’m about to preview is one of those smaller festival sets that you might not have heard of yet. Maybe you have though. If you’re like me and grew up with the punk/emo/indie/alternative scene in the early to mid-00’s, you may very well know the name of this guy who is responsible for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. His name is Andrew McMahon (duh).

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness is the solo project of former Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin front man, Andrew McMahon. Compared to both of those bands Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness sounds a lot like Jack’s Mannequin’s pop rock, piano rock style but with a slight indie sound as well (Something Corporate was more pop punk). Even though the sound is similar to Jack’s Mannequin, the lyrics represent a different time period in this artist’s life. Jack’s Mannequin songs were more about breaking free, dealing with the struggles life brings, and then rising above them. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’s first single “Cecelia and the Satellite” is about McMahon’s daughter who was born in February 2014. The music in this new band is a lyrical progression of his life. The band’s debut self-titled album was just released in October (2014). McMahon has since been playing venues around the country in promotion of his new band and album. He’s also playing a bunch of festivals and events this summer with a few solo dates mixed in. To get a full history on this new project though, you really have to understand where he started.

Vocalist and pianist, Andrew McMahon, along with bassist, Kevin Page, drummer, Brian Ireland, and guitarists, Josh Partington and Reuben Hernandez (later replaced by William Tell) formed Something Corporate in 1998. Through their time as a band the group released three albums, Ready… Break (2000), Leaving Through the Window (2002), and North (2003). By 2004-2005 the pop-punk band decided to go on hiatus with a promise that the break wasn’t an end to the group (the band played a few shows together at various times since their hiatus began and had a reunion tour in 2010 but did not release any new material since North). During the break, McMahon took the time to work on his side project Jack’s Mannequin, but life had other plans for the musician.

While on tour in 2005, McMahon woke up one morning with an inability to speak, so he went to the doctor to get checked out. After getting some tests done, McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was 22. That summer tours were cancelled and he went through intense cancer treatments. The day Jack’s Mannequin’s debut album, Everything in Transit, was released, McMahon received a stem cell transplant from his sister Katie. The album sold 25,000 copies in its first week. By December, McMahon had made a full recovery and played his first show in 6 months. Jack’s Mannequin released two more albums The Glass Passenger (2008) and People and Things (2011), but by 2012 McMahon was ready to close the door on Jack’s and that time period of his life.

Now flashback to late 2003 when I still listened to the radio and pop music. I was a freshman in high school and had yet to hear of bands like Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, and Taking Back Sunday. One of my friends told me about this song I should listen to that she heard about from this boy she liked for several months called “Punk Rock Princess” by a band called Something Corporate. I listened and got into the song for the sake of my friend. Sometime after that though, within the next year to be precise, I really started listening to Something Corporate. Sure it might have been after the whole Dashboard discovery, but still. I purchased Leaving Through the Window and fell in love with songs like “Hurricane” (one of my favorite songs of all time), “Cavanaugh Park”, and “I Woke Up in A Car”. I got North around fall/winter of 2004 and fell more in love with the band with songs like “She Paints Me Blue”, “Ruthless”, “21 and Invincible”, and “Space”.

When Warped Tour announced in 2005 that they were coming to my area, I had all intentions of going. I had heard about the festival for the past year and was super excited to be able to experience it. I was even more excited when I found out Something Corporate was on the tour and playing my date. Unfortunately, that was 2005, the same year McMahon was diagnosed with leukemia and SoCo cancelled their Warped Tour dates. I was bummed because Something Corporate played a show near me in the spring of 2005, but I had missed out on it. That summer at my first Warped Tour, I remember there was a Jack’s Mannequin merch table that I guess stayed on the tour after SoCo announced they wouldn’t be playing. It was promoting the new album due out a few weeks later (my date was in early August). I ended up buying a t-shirt from them. I also bought Everything In Transit upon its release and loved it (although not as much as those SoCo albums). Three years later I finally saw Andrew McMahon perform as part of the annual spring concert at my college. He was still with Jack’s Mannequin, but of course the show didn’t go without a few Something Corporate songs. After that, I really didn’t follow Jack’s Mannequin or Andrew McMahon as much. Only within the last year when Andrew began touring with his new band did I find out what he had been up to.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness plays both Saturdays at Coachella 2015. Seeing this new Andrew McMahon band at Coachella would be another case of nostalgia for me (like with Brand New). However, since the opportunity to see him again has presented itself, I may as well take advantage of it (just like I hopefully plan on doing with Brand New). If other bands I want to see play at the same time, I might have to pass. If not though, I’ll definitely be at the Andrew McMahon set. I’m guessing the set won’t just be songs off the self-titled album either. There will probably be some Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate songs thrown in the mix. I’ll cross my fingers for “Konstantine” (one can only hope). I have listened to his new stuff though and it’s good so either way I know I’ll enjoy it. If you check him out, hopefully you will too (even if he is a dad now and doesn’t still spell confusion with a “k”).

Song recommendations:

1. Cecelia and the Satellite

2. Canyon Moon

3. High Dive

4. Halls

5. Black and White Movies

(Just in case you really want to be prepared…Something Corporate recommendations:

1. Hurricane

2. Space

3. Konstantine

4. The Astronaut

5. I Woke Up In A Car

AND…. Jack’s Mannequin recommendations:

1. The Mixed Tape

2. Holiday From Real

3. Dark Blue

4. Bruised

5. Kill the Messenger)

 

Coachella Band Preview: Brand New

If you had asked me in the months between when I purchased tickets to Coachella until when the Coachella lineup came out who I thought was going to play the event or who I wanted to see at it, I could have given you a bunch of bands. The Arctic Monkeys. The Black Keys. Alt-J. Cold War Kids. Florence and the Machine. The list goes on and on. When the lineup came out in January, some of those bands made the cut (i.e. Alt-J, Florence, etc.). Many did not. What I wasn’t anticipating was seeing a band on the list that had been a major part of my life since around the time I started listening to “good music” in high school. It was a band that I haven’t listened to in several years because my taste in music changed quite a bit (when I strayed on a more indie route from my punk rock/emo/scene kid days). Even though that is the case, I can’t pretend I wasn’t stoked to see their name on the poster.

Coachella is noted for booking artists and bands that appeal to a wide array of music tastes. So, it shouldn’t have come as such a shock to see Brand New’s name on the lineup. I wasn’t expecting it but like I said, I was still pretty stoked. If you had asked me during my senior of high school who my favorite bands were, Brand New would’ve been in the top 3 so possibly seeing them as part of my first Coachella experience would be pretty rad.

Formed in 2000 from Long Island, New York (one of the best music scenes in the late 90’s-early 00’s), Brand New is made up of members, Jesse Lacey , Vincent Accardi, Garrett Tierney, and Brian Lane. Since their creation, Brand New has toured world wide, played countless festivals, and even performed on some late night television shows. They released their debut album Your Favorite Weapon in 2001. The second album, Déjà Entendu, came two years later and was a change in style from their first album. The first album was angsty, emo punk rock about all kinds of relationships. Most notably a few songs on the record supposedly took a dig at Taking Back Sunday guitarist, John Nolan, who was childhood friends with frontman, Jesse Lacey (for more on the bands’ feud you can check this out). The sound on the second album was way more mature. It was more alternative rock, more mellow at times, and much less angry. It was a progression of sound as well as success as it surpassed sales of their first album in a matter of weeks. Brand New’s third album, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, was released in November 2006 and featured one of their most successful singles, “Jesus Christ”. The sound in this album also progressed from their second album. Although I would also consider it alternative rock, the band’s punk rock roots were less evident in it compared to Déjà Entendu (at least it seemed that way to me, but you could argue). Daisy, their fourth full length and latest album, was released in 2009. The sound in it was comparable to their third album and didn’t stray as much as the transitions between the other 3 albums.

In late 2004, a friend of mine introduced me to Brand New by burning me a copy of Your Favorite Weapon (it was actually the same friend who introduced me to Bayside). I was a huge fan from that point on. I listened to the CD constantly. I’m pretty sure I ended up getting Déjà Entendu not long after. It might’ve even been for Christmas 2004. I loved almost every song on Your Favorite Weapon though. In particular, “Failure By Design” was my all-time favorite. I related to the lyrics so much since I was such an emo kid at age 15. I purchased a Brand New t-shirt at Hot Topic (before Hot Topic got trendy) that is still to this day one of my favorite band tees. My Brand New “Because Mics Are For Singing Not Swinging” zip-up hoodie (another dig at Taking Back Sunday) was my go to during my senior year of high school. I screamed the lyrics to “Seventy Times Seven” when I got in fights with friends, and then I would put that song on the mix tapes I made them.

The first time I saw Brand New play live was in October 2006, my senior year of high school, when they were on tour with Dashboard Confessional. They opened for Dashboard. I saw them two more times after that. Both came in the spring of 2010, my junior year of college, within a week or two of each other. Yes, it was two shows on the same tour. I haven’t seen them since. I haven’t really had the desire to either since I experienced that second “musical enlightenment” in the spring of 2011 (my music taste changed a bit for those that haven’t read my blog posts).

Seeing them this year at Coachella would be like an added bonus (since I never expected to see them there). They’re playing on Sunday for both weekends in what will be their first Coachella appearance. I haven’t listened to them to prepare for their set because I’m sure if I do end up seeing it I’ll know the songs well enough already. However, if you end up seeing their set, I have a feeling they’ll be playing some new material. In November 2014, they announced a fifth album was in the works. I haven’t heard when it’ll be released but I’m sure they’ll use this opportunity to play a few new tunes. So if you’re like me and Brand New was part of the soundtrack to your teenage high school days (or if you’re into the kind of music they play), their set is worth checking out. It’ll definitely be nostalgic.

Song recommendations:

1. Seventy Times Seven

2. Failure By Design

3. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows

4. Okay, I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don’t

5. Jesus Christ

6. Archers

7. At The Bottom

8. Jude Law And A Semester Abroad

9. The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot

10. Soco Amaretto Lime

Coachella Band Preview: Alabama Shakes

Too hyped that Coachella is only 3 weeks away? Me too. I’ve been listening to music, planning what to pack, and figuring out some other things I need for my arrival in beautiful Southern California. It’s about to get so real. In the meantime though, I’ve decided to blog about a band from the south playing the festival this year for their first time, Alabama Shakes.

Alabama Shakes was formed in 2009 when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell began writing songs while still in high school together in Athens, Alabama. They recruited drummer Steve Johnson to join the group  prior to recording some of the tracks they had been working on. Later, guitarist Heath Fogg came on board and so began their life as Alabama Shakes. They were formerly just called The Shakes but added the “Alabama” to differentiate from other bands also known as The Shakes. Their first album Boys & Girls was released in April of 2012, but they started gaining attention prior to that due to the release of a four song EP in September 2011. The band received Grammy nominations for “Best New Artist” and “Best Rock Performance” the following year for their work on the debut album.

I first heard of Alabama Shakes in the spring of 2012 shortly after the release of Boys & Girls. I heard the single “Hold On” and really enjoyed it. Then I remember reading about the group/album thinking, “these guys are gonna be like Foster the People was last year. I need to get into them before everyone else finds out about how good they are. (I like to say I knew about bands “first”.)” So I went out and bought the album. I told all my friends to listen to them. I saw they were touring and selling out shows after a solid performance at SXSW (South by Southwest) that year. However, what I thought would happen didn’t really happen as I expected. Alabama Shakes did end up receiving those Grammy nominations that were predicted when I first heard about them, but I still think Foster the People blew up more.

The band plays a blues, soulful type of rock known as roots rock, which is a combination of folk, blues, and country rock. They could also be classified in the Americana genre. Now that I think about it, it makes total sense why I got into Alabama Shakes in spring 2012. It was also at that point that my interest in The Black Keys started to peak. I purchased El Camino probably a month before I got Boys & Girls. Although I wouldn’t classify their styles and sounds as being the same, both Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys have some similarity with the blues rock sound they produce. Alabama Shakes definitely has more soul and a country-ish feel to their music though. I guess I kind of progressed to Alabama Shakes after listening to The Black Keys.

Like some other bands/artists playing Coachella this year, Alabama Shakes also have a new album due out soon after the festival (the week after Weekend 2 to be exact). The sophomore album is called Sound & Color and the group has already released two singles from it, “Gimme All Your Love” and “Don’t Wanna Fight”, but I doubt those will be the only new tracks the band plays in Indio. This year Alabama Shakes joins Coachella for the first time in a minor headlining role. They play Friday on both weekends. There’s not that many bands I have on my must-see list for Friday, but Alabama Shakes is one of them. I remember wanting to see them in 2012, but not having anyone to go with (at that point I wasn’t too keen on going places by myself). So now I can finally fulfill those wishes.

Song recommendations:

1. Hold On

2.Don’t Wanna Fight

3. Hang Loose

4. Always Alright

5. You Ain’t Alone

6. Be Mine

7. I Found You

2015 Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival Lineup Release

With the new year upon us, only a few months remain until spring and summer. What seems to have become a bigger deal in recent years during these seasons at least according to my perspective are music festivals. I mean up until 4 years ago or so all I knew of was the Vans Warped Tour (travels all over the country) which I had attended from 2005-2011 and the Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, which is no longer in existence. Apparently musical festivals, a lot of which last several days, are a big deal.

Some of the biggest in the country are Lollapalooza in Chicago, Illinois, South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee, and Coachella in Indio, California. Of course if you want to get global we could also include Glastonbury in England. On the east coast (where I reside), Firefly (Dover, Delaware) and Governor’s Ball (New York, New York) seem to be getting some acclaim. On the west coast, I’ve heard some pretty good things about Sasquatch (Gorge, Washington). Then again, there’s plenty of other festivals for specific types of music as well.

When it comes to all these festivals, those who look forward to attending anticipate the lineup announcements, and for those who plan on attending Coachella, the lineup was released 2 days ago. Since Coachella is probably the biggest and most acclaimed festival in the U.S., I just wanted to take the time to feature the lineup.  It’s also pretty important to me because for the first time ever I will be attending the festival during Weekend 1 (yes this festival got so big it is now two consecutive weekends) and I want to discuss what I expect from the Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival 2015.

The Headliners: AC/DC, Jack White, Drake

These headliners are always front of the rumor mill for weeks leading up to the lineup announcement. With this lineup of headliners and often with Coachella headliners we’re given a blend of different types of artists. AC/DC is old-school, classic rock. From what I’ve read this may be one of the last times they even play a show together, so it’s bound to be a special experience. Plus it’s a guarantee that everyone knows their songs and will gladly sing along as they shred Friday night in the desert. This will be Jack White’s first time playing as a solo artist at Coachella (he played as a member of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather). He’s also a rock guy and with being a well-known musician, plus the success of Lazaretto he seemed destined to headline the event. Lastly, rap artist, Drake, will be closing out the list of headliners Sunday night. As stated, Coachella seems to get many music styles in their yearly lineups. Having big name rappers headline the festival is nothing new (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre have previously headlined) but being given a top spot for a rapper is quite the honor. His set is already being referred to as one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend. With Drake’s success, I’m sure he won’t disappoint.

The Other Highly Billed Performers (aka the next 2 lines on each day of the poster): Tame Impala, Interpol, Steely Dan, Alesso, Alabama Shakes, Ride, Nero, the Weeknd, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Ratatat, Hozier, Florence & the Machine, Kaskade, Ryan Adams, David Guetta, St. Vincent, Azealia Banks, Flying Lotus, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, Lykke Li, DJ Snake, Porter Robinson, Caribou, Flosstradamus, Bad Religion, SBTRKT, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Father John Misty, the War on Drugs, Deorro, Marina and the Diamonds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Brand New, Madeon, Stromae, Kygo, Odesza, Gesaffelstein, RAC, Lil B

Obviously I can’t go into discussion about each of these bands, but as I stated twice already, Coachella puts a lineup together of all different styles of music and this year is no different. I do have to mention Steely Dan and Ride, which along with AC/DC make up some pretty old acts. Out of this group I’m most looking forward to Alabama Shakes, alt-J, Belle & Sebastian, Florence & the Machine, St. Vincent, RAC, and Brand New. I’d also be interested in checking out Ride (I really know nothing except for “Vapour Trail” because of The Perks of Being A Wallflower (the book)), Hozier (will definitely check them out if there’s time because it’ll be a fun set, but I did see them last year at the Sweetlife Festival and they’re not high on my list of faves), Bad Religion (I don’t know too much of their stuff but another old school band I listened to in college on occasion), Father John Misty (I just wanna hear “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”), Fitz and the Tantrums (good band but like Hozier I saw them at Sweetlife), and Tame Impala (they’re alright and I own an album, but again not one of my faves).

2-3 years ago I was pretty hyped on Alabama Shakes so I’m looking forward to their set and hearing Brittany Howard kill the vocals. I just got alt-J’s latest album on vinyl and I’ve been a fan of a selection of their songs for a couple years. Belle & Sebastian have been around for awhile. I passed up the opportunity to seem them in Pittsburgh last summer and I’m kind of looking forward to singing along to “Boy with the Arab Strap”. Out of all the bands playing I think I’m looking forward to seeing Florence & the Machine the most. Florence Welch has some insane pipes. I have both of their albums on vinyl and with a third coming out soon, it looks like I’ll have to make that purchase before I fly out to SoCal. I’m not a huge St. Vincent fan but it’s mostly because I haven’t really listened to a ton of her music. I know a few songs and I really enjoy those so I’m gonna have to prep for this one. I still like her enough to add her to my list of most anticipated acts. I was hooked on the song “Cheap Sunglasses” by RAC this past summer and I downloaded a few other songs since then. I plan on learning more in the three months until Coachella so I’m ready for what I think will be a fun set. Finally, Brand New. I could make a whole post about Brand New and I probably will at some point. I’ve liked Brand New since I was 15 years old. Since my second musical enlightenment (refer back to the post about that), I’ve fallen out of listening to them (unless I feel like playing some “Seventy Times Seven” to myself on guitar). I’ve seen them three times already and enjoyed each experience. Out of all the bands playing Coachella though, I know the most songs by Brand New. It’ll definitely be a throwback for me and I guarantee everyone at that set will most likely be feeling the same nostalgia I’ll feel. It’s gonna be fun.

The Rest: Caribou, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Angus & Julia Stone, Hot Natured, George Ezra, Squarepusher, Kiesza, Action Bronson, Gorgon City, Reverend Horton Heat, Sylvan Esso, Kimbra, Vic Mensa, Erol Alkan, Kele, Cloud Nothings, Keys N Krates, MK, Pete Tong, Ab-Soul, Haerts, Eagulls, Allah-Las, Alvin Risk, Chris Malinchak, Jon Hopkins, Oliver Heldens, Ryan Hemsworth, Jason Bentley, Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band, Marques Wyatt, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Los Rakas, Run the Jewels, Tycho, Chet Faker, Kasabian, Drive Like Jehu, Swans, Milky Chance, Toro y Moi, Jungle, New World Punx, Clean Bandit, Glass Animals, Royal Blood, Alison Wonderland, the Gaslamp Killer Experience, Loco Dice, Danny Tenaglia, Antemasque, Parquet Courts, Gramatik, Lights, What So Not, Yellow Claw, DJ Harvey, Tale of Us, Yelle, Andrew McMahon, Carl Graig, Phox, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Cashmere Cat, Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, Tourist, Benjamin Booker, Matthew Koma, Perfume Genius, Jamestown Revival, Bad Suns, Ruen Brothers, Bixel Boys, Andrea Olivia, Ryn Weaver, Radkey, Coasts, Until the Ribbon Breaks, Circa Survive, Jenny Lewis, Desaparecidos, Jamie xx, Martin Solveig, Duke Dumont, Mac DeMarco, Vance Joy, Built to Spill, J.E.S.&S (Jack Master, Eats Everything, Skream & Seth Troxler), Panda Bear, Kaytranada, R3hab, St. Lucia, Dirty South, OFF!, Charles Bradley, Philip Selway, Cedric Gervais, Claude Von Stroke, Touché Amoré, Joyce Manor, Angel Olsen, John Talabot, Tiger and Woods, Dubfire, Sturgill Simpson, Annie Mac, Chicano Batman, MØ, Sloan, Doc Martin, Saint Motel, The Orwells, The Cribs, tINI, Ben Klock, Night Terrors of 1927

Some of the bands listed here might also be considered highly billed as well but I just listed everything in poster order priority. Out of this group, I’d like to see Angus & Julia Stone, Milky Chance, Jungle, Desaparecidos, Vance Joy, St. Lucia, and Andrew McMahon. Even though they’re not listed as a top performer, I really like St. Lucia and I missed them at Sweetlife last year because I was trying to secure a good spot for Lana Del Rey. I just received their album on vinyl for Christmas and I love it so I’m definitely making these guys a priority. Next on the priority list from this group of bands is Desaparecidos which I never listened to/heard of until today (listening as I write this actually). I’m kind of upset I haven’t because they’re a side project band of the all too well-known Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I always thought it would be cool to see Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes and I don’t plan on missing out at my opportunity. Count the rest of the bands I listed above as ones I would see if there was time/nothing else going on. It’s not like Andrew McMahon is going to play a bunch of Something Corporate songs for me to jam to (although “Konstantine” would be devine), I only know the most well-known song by both Milky Chance and Vance Joy, and Angus & Julia Stone are great to listen to on a long drive but I only know a few songs and they’re not one of my favorites. Jungle is borderline. It depends how much I listen to them in the coming months/how much I enjoy listening to them but I do really love the song “Time”.

As far as this lineup goes, I think it could be better based on my own tastes (I liked last year’s lineup a lot). However, I still feel fortunate that I’m going and get to experience what Coachella is all about. Who knows though. There might be other bands I check out and end up loving that I add to my list of bands I want to see when I attend this epic 3 day extravaganza with my awesome cousin, Kelly, who agreed to go with me. You can bet I’ll be prepping for the next 3 months and you can also expect a review of my experience/the bands post-festival. Please feel free to comment with any bands you think I would like or should listen to because I’m all about good prep suggestions. The countdown to this famed festival got real with the lineup release Tuesday, and I can’t believe I actually get to be there instead of watching the stream on my computer this year. Until then, it’s music prep time. See you in the desert!